Monday, 14 July 2008


Checklists: Humble yet effective

Yet again I am amazed by the simple effectiveness of having a checklist. We all know (and take comfort in) the need and application of pre-flight checklists for an airline pilot, but how often we forget their power in dealing with complex office activities.

The mapping of a well constructed internal process both “as is” and “future state” was coming to the end, and the issue remaining was to ensure that the checking step was complete and understood. We pondered, added and challenged until we came up with a 25 item list, making it clear which function checked each item (using their unique skill and knowledge set). The outcome was crystal clear clarity on what had to be done right in the upstream process steps, and rock solid ownership of what was to be checked by whom. This was evidenced by comments such as “... and that’s why xyz happened, because it wasn’t right” and “that re-work cost a lot!”

Is the list perfect? Probably not.
Can it be improved? Certainly.
Can it be used as a training tool? Of course.

Can we use the list to work out how to make errors less likely? Now we are talking....